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Luggage Transfer Correos

How light is too light? Backpack question

2020 Camino Guides

Backagain

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo (2017)
Frances (2020)
When I walked in 2017, I took a small backpack with 2 outfits, a sleeping bag, and basic toiletries, the whole thing came in at under 10 lbs. I ended up taking a daypack with minimal structure, but enough for it to fit comfortably and it worked really well for me. I walked a portion of the Primitivo, about 100 miles.

I’m planning to walk again, this time starting in St Jean Pied de Port, and I need a new backpack. I said goodbye to the old one after a Kilimanjaro climb last summer when a strap was starting to fail and I couldn’t get the smell out.

Should I look for a slightly more substantial pack? Or can I get away with the same light load and carrying system? I dont think I need more stuff, but I’d be interested to know if a longer hike requires a heavier pack.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Hi, Backagain, and welcome to the Forum.

I would be happy to help in any way I can. If you wish, contact me by the private message system on the Forum. There are some questions and details that I would need to know before a good answer to your questions can be given. :)
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
When I walked in 2017, I took a small backpack with 2 outfits, a sleeping bag, and basic toiletries, the whole thing came in at under 10 lbs. I ended up taking a daypack with minimal structure, but enough for it to fit comfortably and it worked really well for me. I walked a portion of the Primitivo, about 100 miles.

I’m planning to walk again, this time starting in St Jean Pied de Port, and I need a new backpack. I said goodbye to the old one after a Kilimanjaro climb last summer when a strap was starting to fail and I couldn’t get the smell out.

Should I look for a slightly more substantial pack? Or can I get away with the same light load and carrying system? I dont think I need more stuff, but I’d be interested to know if a longer hie requires a heavier pack.
Let your experience be your guide. If you have already walked successfully with a particular style of pack, and your body has been fine with that, I wouldn't think there was any reason to change that approach. This assumes that you won't be carrying any more than you did on your previous camino. If you do decide to add more, you will reach a point where you will find a pack with more structure will be more comfortable.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
When I walked in 2017, I took a small backpack with 2 outfits, a sleeping bag, and basic toiletries, the whole thing came in at under 10 lbs. I ended up taking a daypack with minimal structure, but enough for it to fit comfortably and it worked really well for me. I walked a portion of the Primitivo, about 100 miles.

I’m planning to walk again, this time starting in St Jean Pied de Port, and I need a new backpack. I said goodbye to the old one after a Kilimanjaro climb last summer when a strap was starting to fail and I couldn’t get the smell out.

Should I look for a slightly more substantial pack? Or can I get away with the same light load and carrying system? I dont think I need more stuff, but I’d be interested to know if a longer hike requires a heavier pack.
Backagain:

The size of your pack varies with each individual. Most people take too much.

The season you walk will make some difference. If what you carried last time worked for you then it should work this time. That said, I would recommend rain gear,

Joe
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Lighter, overall, is always preferable. But all-day comfort is of equal importance.

Our fellow contributor, Davebugg, works with various gear manufacturers to do live field evaluations of new gear. He is an excellent resource.

That said, ask any two veteran pilgrims and you will get perhaps five opinions.

Personally, I started with a 48-liter Osprey Kestrel rucksack. After four Caminos, I moved to an identical, but smaller, 38-liter Osprey Kestrel pack. I happen to like the features of this particular rucksack very much. But, the trade off is that the bag is heavy, about 1.5 kg when empty.

For 2020, I am planning to try a 32-liter Berghaus ultralight pack. It weighs .5 liters empty. It has a light, fiberglass rod frame, and a roll top, dry bag closure system.

Right now, I am custom-fitting attachment points, gear pockets, and my preferred front pack, belly or sporran style carry. I use this regardless of what rucksack I use to hold everything I might want quick to hand, without having to remove my rucksack.

Hope this helps.
 
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SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
...
Should I look for a slightly more substantial pack? Or can I get away with the same light load and carrying system? I dont think I need more stuff, but I’d be interested to know if a longer hike requires a heavier pack.
If you don't need more stuff, why change what has worked well for you in the past?
BC SY
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
If you walk for a week or for a month does not really make that big difference. But if you, in comparison to your first camino, intend to take some additional stuff (i. E. rain-gear, second towel, more sun-protection, 3rd pair of socks), it might be useful to look for a backpack with some more structure.

The Osprey Talon 33 is something between a daypack and a hiking-backpack. It has a weight of 950 gr. approximately.

If I were you I would first decide what to take on the camino, try to fit this in the old pack, test it and then decide if I would buy the same pack again or if I would try another one.

BC
Alexandra
 

backpack45scb

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2001 CF, 04-6 LP, 07 Port, 08-10 Arles, 11 Mozá,12-13 Gen-LP. 00-10 PCT, 15 Norte, 16 Primi
What worked for you on the Primitivo will work on the Francés. The ultralight packs are essentially bags with shoulder straps, so no structure other than your folded foam pad slid vertically in the pack to protect your back from sharp objects. The manufacturers sometimes sell small pads for minimal padding. This is what my wife and I each used in 2001 when we walked the Francés. We've gradually upgraded since then to packs with waist belts, but my current pack is 1 lb, and hers is 2 lb. You do need raingear.

For example: https://www.gossamergear.com/collections/backpacks/products/murmur-36-hyperlight-backpack

Another ultralight manufacturer: https://www.ula-equipment.com/products/packs/

My current skin out gearlist: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TIO-Uant4ULke420zos-fcymExxO8f3WD-i4i0uHEbk/edit#gid=0

So, the answer is you do not need a heavier pack.
 

tomnorth

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: September 24 - October 31 (2015)
Some things that might cause you to go heavier for a longer trek include medications and possibly clothing to cover a wider variety of weather conditions. Otherwise, it tends to be a rinse and repeat affair with most everything else you bring.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
You lucky, lucky . . . Pilgrim :)
Yes, I was (very blessed) but the weather was very warm and had it even rained somewhat I would not have had a problem because it was very warm and all my clothing was quick drying. Mind you, I did have a waterproof pack cover and a plastic bin bag to put all my things inside of while in the pack in the event it did rain. To me keeping your kit dry is more important than keeping yourself dry (in warm/hot weather of course).
 

ranthr

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
Via de la Plata 2011
gr 653 from Oloron to Puente la Reina 2012
Gr65 from le Puy to Figeac 2013
Irun to Santander 2013
Porto to SdC 2014
Astorga to SdC 2015
Often the very small backpacks are not very good to carry, the bigger ones might have bettercarryingconditiones. I would choose a bigger lightweighted Osprey and put less in it. They even often weigh less than a smaller one anyway.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Often the very small backpacks are not very good to carry, the bigger ones might have bettercarryingconditiones. I would choose a bigger lightweighted Osprey and put less in it. They even often weigh less than a smaller one anyway.
Good point. The smaller backpacks do not fit me as well as the larger ones. Some of the smaller ones are just not designed to fit bigger guys like me. I have always still managed to carry-on my old 48L backpack as I simply do not load it up to full capacity. I did purchase a 32/34L for summer Caminos, and it works quite well for me.
My final test for my back pack before I leave to go walk the Camino is that it must be small and light enough to carry-on the flight, and it must be light enough for me to throw up in the air over my head, and for me to be able to catch it with ease. If you throw your backpack in the air and cannot catch it, it may be time to reconsider what you are carrying.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
I doubt a longer walk needs a heavier pack. What you need for two days is enough stuff. As to a pack: I recently got a daypack with excellent structure. I did not want to attract attention around airport and city centre because of my camino pack, and it was enough for my stuff for five days. It is now my daily backpack for going about my business. Good luck and enjoy your coming camino!
incidentally, in the airport I saw a team of young women, charts in hand, flanked by a couple of men... thanks to warnings on posts in the forum, i knew to just say nothing and keep moving...
 

spursfan

Veteran Member
Often the very small backpacks are not very good to carry, the bigger ones might have bettercarryingconditiones. I would choose a bigger lightweighted Osprey and put less in it. They even often weigh less than a smaller one anyway.
I disagree - sometimes comfort has a heavy price - the Kestrel 38 litre pack weighs over 1.5 kg - excluding liquid, I carry just under 3kg including a pack that weighs 600g
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I disagree - sometimes comfort has a heavy price - the Kestrel 38 litre pack weighs over 1.5 kg - excluding liquid, I carry just under 3kg including a pack that weighs 600g
It's definitely possible to find a larger backpack with a good suspension system that doesn't weigh 1.5 kg. My Gossamer Gear Ranger 35 weighs only 764 grams. If anyone is looking for a great lightweight pack it's on sale now for only $105!
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
See signature
Should I look for a slightly more substantial pack? Or can I get away with the same light load and carrying system? I dont think I need more stuff, but I’d be interested to know if a longer hike requires a heavier pack.
I agree with you, you don’t need more stuff, whether you walk 100 or 1000 km, requirements are the same. I’d buy the lightest comfortable backpack within your budget to replace your old one. I prefer one with a frame but that’s my own taste.

Just one thing: if you walk for a longer length of time, you are more likely to encounter different weather conditions. I don’t know which season you walk but make sure you have every possibility covered (rain/heat/cold.... Even in Summer it can be quite cold in the mountains, for instance).

My personal choices are an Osprey Exos 48 (normally carried half empty, max.5kg) or recently the Osprey Lumina (only 770g but pricey).

Happy shopping! 🙂
 

Bash On!

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Next year perhaps?
It's definitely possible to find a larger backpack with a good suspension system that doesn't weigh 1.5 kg. My Gossamer Gear Ranger 35 weighs only 764 grams. If anyone is looking for a great lightweight pack it's on sale now for only $105!
They keep dropping the price! Got mine on sale for $124 a couple weeks ago. Think it was originally $169. It is a great-looking pack--even better in person than in the picture--and well-made.

Read somewhere that it was touted as fitting up to a 24" torso. Unfortunately, it turned out to be too small for my 22" size. May have to return it. :(
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
They keep dropping the price! Got mine on sale for $124 a couple weeks ago. Think it was originally $169. It is a great-looking pack--even better in person than in the picture--and well-made.

Read somewhere that it was touted as fitting up to a 24" torso. Unfortunately, it turned out to be too small for my 22" size. May have to return it. :(
Yeah, the 'one-size-fits-many' mostly works, but it isn't just the spine length that affects fit. It is also the relation of the top of the hips (iliac crest) to the shoulder height (short waisted/long-waisted) that can affect fit and comfort, too.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
I disagree - sometimes comfort has a heavy price - the Kestrel 38 litre pack weighs over 1.5 kg - excluding liquid, I carry just under 3kg including a pack that weighs 600g
2.4kg plus your pack? That’s really very light indeed. Could you post your packing list? I’m always willing to learn.
 
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spursfan

Veteran Member
2.4kg plusvyour pack? That’s really very light indeed. Could you post your packing list? I’m always willing to learn.
I walk during May or September and stay mainly in hotels but use albergues occasionally - having fewer items is probably my main theme although I pretty much choose the lightest available - and no electronics

Gregory miwok 12L (c 600g) but well built and has moisture-wicking harness

Walking shorts, Underpants (2 pairs), Merino tshirt, tech tshirt, Merrell trail glove shoes (400g the pair), barefoot socks (4 pairs), rain jacket (100g or 250g if goretex paclite), lowe alpine "french foreign legion" hat, buff, light gloves

Silk sleeping bag liner (140g), waterproof bag for clothes, guidebooks, elastoplast dressing strip, razor, vaseline, sun cream, nail clippers, ear plugs, pins, comb, spare battery for watch, toothpaste, toothbrush
 

Arctic_Alex

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Finished: Camino Frances April/May 2019
Considering: Primitivo May 2020
I dont think I need more stuff, but I’d be interested to know if a longer hike requires a heavier pack.
If you do not need more stuff, you need no heavier pack. Simple as that :)

I walked the Camino last year early in the season starting in SJPdP. On several mornings there was still frost and the nights in some albergues were rather cold. Nevertheless, after subtracting my camera gear and a pair of way too heavy sandals which I never used I would have gotten along well with 10 lbs all the way from SJPdP to Finisterre. In fact it is my plan for the next walk to go even more light-weight.
 

Jo Jo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, July '14 & Sep-Oct '16
Via di Francesco, July '15,
CP Oct. '17, Salvador & Primitivo Sep '19
For Camino weights, I think ultralight packs are fine--but I do not like the frameless versions. Too much weight on my shoulders. Those may be fine for a weekend trip, but not for month walking across Spain. If I were you, I'd look at a Zpacks Arc Blast, or a KS pack with the frame set option (Frenchman out of Japan--the website is a bit clunky, he'll happily answer questions in reasonable English). Both around 500ish grams. Personally, I'm going with a KS for my next Camino (to lose about 300 grams). Just for a frame of reference, this is my complete packing list after 4 Caminos (about 5kg, including luxury items). https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/post-camino-gear-review-5-kilo-11-pound-pack-base-weight.64695/
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
When in off season and I have to carry everything, I use a well constructed Golite backpack which weighs only .5 lbs. ..but it does not have good hip support! Nevertheless, it is extemely light and works for me.
I also carry a fanny pack for my passport, valuables, and IPad Air. I
carry a lite polyester filled quilt and in toto my bag weight is not more than 5 Lbs. We stay in private albergues which usually have soap or shampoo so we do not carry it. I now only take with me pair of polyester crepe pants, one, pair of Patagonia lite thermal pants. Polyester shorts, I only wear sock liners ( total of 4 pairs) and three pair of cotton underpants. I use a lite rain poncho from Ikea. Usually layer several Patagonia lite long sleeve shirts, a medium weight Patagonia wicker shirt, silk gloves, a baseball cap, a balaclava and finally a lite zipper polyester long sleeve jacket. Since we do not travel in summer, most of what we bring gets worn daily or in bed. So I am not carrying extra clothing.
 

nathanael

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte Plata
Lighter, overall, is always preferable. But all-day comfort is of equal importance.

Our fellow contributor, Davebugg, works with various gear manufacturers to do live field evaluations of new gear. He is an excellent resource.

That said, ask any two veteran pilgrims and you will get perhaps five opinions.

Personally, I started with a 48-liter Osprey Kestrel rucksack. After four Caminos, I moved to an identical, but smaller, 38-liter Osprey Kestrel pack. I happen to like the features of this particular rucksack very much. But, the trade off is that the bag is heavy, about 1.5 kg when empty.

For 2020, I am planning to try a 32-liter Berghaus ultralight pack. It weighs .5 liters empty. It has a light, fiberglass rod frame, and a roll top, dry back closure system.

Right now, I am custom-fitting attachment points, gear pockets, and my preferred front pack, belly or sporran style carry. I use this regardless of what rucksack I use to hold everything I might want quick to hand, without having to remove my rucksack.

Hope this helps.
I find my Zulu 40 by Gregory seems too heavy, possibly because of the metal crossbar for the ventilation. Am I imaging this is it due to the metal gear in the pack? do all backpacks have this?
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
No. Gregory uses this particular feature in some of their rucksacks. It is not standard throughout the industry. Other manufacturers use light aluminum or alloy tubular frames.

In my observation, rucksack "cross bars," at least in modern designs, are typically made of heavier nylon webbing for support, or a flat piece of a stiff, but lightweight plastic material. This crossbar is typically sewn into a nylon web strap sort of cover.

Some major manufacturers use a stiff perimeter frame made of some tubular yet sufficiently rigid material, then attach a trampoline type of backpad made from ventilated mesh for enhanced ventilation. But I have only very rarely seen a structural cross bar.

My recent Berghaus addition is an ultralight 32-liter Fast Hike rucksack uses a tubular fiberglass rod in the perimeter of the back frame. There are no crossbars.

I am going to defer to @davebugg, our resident, actual gear tester guy for his consideration and input.Dave field tests gear for manufacturers.

Hope this helps.
 

nathanael

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte Plata
No. Gregory uses this particular feature in some of their rucksacks. It is not standard throughout the industry. Other manufacturers use light aluminum or alloy tubular frames.

In my observation, rucksack "cross bars," at least in modern designs, are typically made of heavier nylon webbing for support, or a flat piece of a stiff, but lightweight plastic material. This crossbar is typically sewn into a nylon web strap sort of cover.

Some major manufacturers use a stiff perimeter frame made of some tubular yet sufficiently rigid material, then attach a trampoline type of backpad made from ventilated mesh for enhanced ventilation. But I have only very rarely seen a structural cross bar.

My recent Berghaus addition is an ultralight 32-liter Fast Hike rucksack uses a tubular fiberglass rod in the perimeter of the back frame. There are no crossbars.

I am going to defer to @davebugg, our resident, actual gear tester guy for his consideration and input.Dave field tests gear for manufacturers.

Hope this helps.
hope to shop for a new backpack at Dicks when I go to Upstate NY, thanks for info
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
hope to shop for a new backpack at Dicks when I go to Upstate NY, thanks for info
The Dicks sporting goods store in my town does not have a very good selection of backpacks, especially lightweight ones.
 

Walking Lover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CdS from Leon to Santiago, June 16, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
When I walked in 2017, I took a small backpack with 2 outfits, a sleeping bag, and basic toiletries, the whole thing came in at under 10 lbs. I ended up taking a daypack with minimal structure, but enough for it to fit comfortably and it worked really well for me. I walked a portion of the Primitivo, about 100 miles.

I’m planning to walk again, this time starting in St Jean Pied de Port, and I need a new backpack. I said goodbye to the old one after a Kilimanjaro climb last summer when a strap was starting to fail and I couldn’t get the smell out.

Should I look for a slightly more substantial pack? Or can I get away with the same light load and carrying system? I dont think I need more stuff, but I’d be interested to know if a longer hike requires a heavier pack.
Same light load.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
The Dicks sporting goods store in my town does not have a very good selection of backpacks, especially lightweight ones.
I agree. There are a number of outdoor equipment stores in upstate NY. Eastern Mountain Sports may be one candidate. Dicks carries low end backpacks, including those packs carrying labels from well known brands like North Face and Mountainsmith.
 

Bash On!

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Next year perhaps?
Well, the Gossamer Gear rep agreed the Ranger 35 was too small. Took the Gregory Ranger 40 back to REI to be refitted and it is too small also (load lifters are at zero degrees at max adjustable size).

Now looking at a Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40, with a listed torso size up to 23.25 inches. Pricey at about $200, including a 25% discount! Anybody have experience with that bag?

Many thanks!
Bash
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Well, the Gossamer Gear rep agreed the Ranger 35 was too small. Took the Gregory Ranger 40 back to REI to be refitted and it is too small also (load lifters are at zero degrees at max adjustable size).

Now looking at a Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40, with a listed torso size up to 23.25 inches. Pricey at about $200, including a 25% discount! Anybody have experience with that bag?

Many thanks!
Bash
I've gear tested for GG and that included the Mariposa and Gorilla. Believe me, the Gorilla is NOT pricey based on the quality of materials, construction, and the amount of time spent developing and tweaking the design. In fact, at that price it is a bargain. :)

It is a great backpack and if it fits, it will easily carry a Camino sized weight load. I have used the Gorilla to carry 10 days worth of gear and food on wilderness backpacking trips. . A camino load is a piece of cake.

What I would do is to also purchase the newer model of backpad,called the Air Flow SitLight Camp Seat. Yeah, the product name doesn't match its function as a back pad for a backpack; it is multifunctional in that you can easily and quickly pull it from the back of the pack, and sit on it if taking a break. It is an redesign of the original (which is still included with the backpacks).

I have used the Gossamer Gear backpacks as my personal pack for thousands of miles backpacking. Lately, I am using the Silverback.

Make sure that you have an accurate measure of your spine length and use that to choose a Small or Medium or Large size. Below is a repost of a guideline I wrote for getting a proper fit with a backpack.

Correct Sizing of a Backpack

The size of the pack is determined by the length of your spine, not by how much the pack can carry.

Measuring for a correct fit involves determining your spine's proper length. That measurement is done by using a tape measure and measuring from the protruding 'knob' on the back of your neck which is at the base of the cervical spine, to the place on your spine that is even with the top of the crest of your hips.
  1. Tilt your head forward and feel for the bony bump where the slope of your shoulders meets your neck. This is your 7th cervical (or C7) vertebra—and the top of your torso length.
  2. On each side of your body, slide your hands down the rib cage to the top of your hip bones (aka the iliac crest). With index fingers pointing forward and thumbs pointing backward, draw an imaginary line between your thumbs. This spot on your lumbar is the bottom of your torso measurement.
  3. Stand up straight and measure - or have your friend measure - the distance between the C7 and the imaginary line between your thumbs. That’s your torso length.


59589



(The above instruction set and picture courtesy of REI)


60881



Once you have that measurement in inches or centimeters, you can then look at the backpack manufacturer's sizing guide. This guide will be used to match your spine length, to their stated size range.

Sometimes the sizes are expressed as Small to Extra Large. Sometimes that size scale will combine the sizes like: S/M, M/L, L/XL. When the sizes are combined, it usually means that there is a good amount of adjustability to the frame of the pack to customize the fit. That will usually be in the shoulder harness and the hipbelt so that a fine tuned fit can be achieved.

Here is a good video which will help with fitting. Ignore the reference to the manufacturer as the method is pretty universal.



Fitting The Shoulder Harness

First, let me mention that there are differences in the shapes of shoulder straps. The standard shoulder strap shape has been what some manufacturers describe as a "J" shape. This shape tends to fit the chest shape of the male better than the female due to the lesser fullness of the chest. However, even with some men who have bigger chests, the J strap shape can be uncomfortable.

A few manufacturers, ULA and Six Moons Design are the most notable, have developed what is called an "S" shaped strap. This shape has solved many of the fit issues for women, allowing for the straps to properly sit on the shoulders without the uncomfortable compression and chafing due to breasts of larger chests. Here is a link which shows the difference between the two strap shapes:



The shoulder harness should wrap around over your shoulders and sit slightly below the top of the shoulder. The shoulder straps should sit comfortably toward the middle of the shoulder girdle, although that may vary a bit. It should not feel like they are going to slip off your shoulders or sit tight against the base of your neck.

The sternum strap should NOT be required to keep the shoulder straps in place. The sternum strap does connect the shoulder straps, but it is designed to help control where the straps sit on the shoulders with excess pack movement; it is not meant to overcome a poor fit and placement of the shoulder straps.

After fastening the sternum strap in place, pull the adjustment strap until you feel a bit of tension.

The sternum strap on a good pack can adjust up and down on the shoulder straps. The usual placement is somewhere just below the collar bone, but body types and builds will cause a variation of where the sternum strap placement feels best.

Hip Belt Adjustments

For the hip belt, the pad of the belt should sort of 'cradle' the crest of the hip bone: the top of the pad should be slightly above the top of the crest while the bottom of the pad should be slightly below the top. Again, the belt, when it is snugged down, should cradle. The belt should not entirely sit above your hips so that the pad compresses your waist, nor should the entire pad sit below the crest of your hips totally squeezing the hip bones.

There is a lot of misinformation about how a pack's load is distributed between shoulders and hips. It is NOT true that the waist/hip belt carries the entire load of the pack. It definitely CAN do that, but doing so is undesirable.

There are reasons which make it necessary to keep the shoulder harness unweighted with the full load weight on the hipbelt. These include damage or injury to the shoulder girdle. There are folks who prefer a total load on the hipbelt even though their shoulder girdle is healthy, but it is a practice which has potential complications associated with it. Even so, it is up to an individual to decide.

If the Hip/waist belt carries the entire weight of the pack
  1. it means the shoulder harness is unweighted and there can be significant pack movement which, during difficult walking terrain, can create problems with your center of gravity. I have seen people lose their balance and fall as a result.
  2. It also can result in your core muscles being overworked, stressed and fatigued trying to compensate from that extra movement.
  3. All of that weight on the pelvis can create significant compression forces by requiring the hipbelt to be over-tightened in order to prevent it from slipping down. This can cause numbness and pain as blood flow and nerve compression is experienced.
  4. All of the weight on the hipbelt will also place additional strain to the hip sockets and knees.
The load ratio will be about 5 to 15 percent for the shoulders and 85 to 95 percent on the hips. This will allow for the proper engagement of your core muscles to help carry the backpack.

Steps To Adjusting a Backpack Before Walking

I'll add a link to a video (ignore the manufacturer) that shows the best steps to follow when putting on a pack and adjusting it. The basic steps are these:
  1. Loosen all of the straps on the shoulder harness and hip belt.
  2. Put on the pack and very slightly tighten the shoulder straps so that the hip belt is slightly below the hips.
  3. Shrug your shoulders up, and then fasten the waist belt as you are getting it roughly into position.
  4. Slightly tighten the shoulder straps to assist with the hip belt adjustment.
  5. Position the hip belt padding to let the padding sit half above and half below the crest of the hips. The padding of the belt should never sit entirely above the hips. The padding should sort of wrap itself over the top of the hip bone and hug the hips.
  6. Tighten the belt just enough to keep it in position. At this point, nearly 100% of the packs weight is resting on the hips.
  7. Snug the shoulder straps to take up 5 to 15 percent of the packs weight. You will feel just a slight unloading of the weight off the hips.
  8. At the top of the shoulder straps and toward the pack, are smaller straps called 'load lifters'. Grasp them and pull to your front. You will feel the weight of the pack lift up slightly and pull more snugly toward your back. This helps with center of gravity and balance. You can experiment with how snug or how loose you want to pull on the straps. A properly adjusted load lifter strap will form a sort of 45 degree angle when viewed from the side.
  9. On some waist/hip belts there can be a small strap connected to each side of the belt. Again, pulling forward on those straps will bring the bottom of the pack closer to your back, helping with balance as you are walking.

 
Last edited:

Bash On!

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Next year perhaps?
Thanks for all the useful information, Dave. The fellow at Gossamer Gear that was helping me with the Ranger 35 very kindly offered me an _additional_ discount beyond the sale price. Between that and your endorsement and personal experience, how could I not order a Gorilla 40?

This will be the fourth try trying to find a bag that fits, so fingers crossed. If it works out, I plan to order that pad you mentioned and some accessories. Thanks again for your help, Dave.

Regards,
Bash
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2018)
It also depends on where you are staying. If you're staying in hotels instead of albergues, you can skip bringing a towel, sleeping bag liner, sleeping bag, soap, and shampoo.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Thanks for all the useful information, Dave. The fellow at Gossamer Gear that was helping me with the Ranger 35 very kindly offered me an _additional_ discount beyond the sale price. Between that and your endorsement and personal experience, how could I not order a Gorilla 40?

This will be the fourth try trying to find a bag that fits, so fingers crossed. If it works out, I plan to order that pad you mentioned and some accessories. Thanks again for your help, Dave.

Regards,
Bash
If I can be of any further help, feel free to send a PM. :) Also, keep in mind that finding a backpack that fits well and feels great is about the same challenge as finding a good pair of shoes. . . . feet and backs both can be very picky and snarky, and no two are exactly alike :)
Dave
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2018)
I find your question very relevant to me! I came off of the Frances last fall and I walked with a basic frame-less pack a a pack weight that was also less than 10lbs. Congrats on being lightweight! I encourage you to stick with that system even for a longer walk. I used the Patagonia Ascensionist 25L Pack, and I do love that pack. From what I can tell, the original one I have is no longer made, but I elaborate on that in my 'pack' section here, with other options I would consider.
 

Bash On!

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Next year perhaps?
If I can be of any further help, feel free to send a PM. :) Also, keep in mind that finding a backpack that fits well and feels great is about the same challenge as finding a good pair of shoes. . . . feet and backs both can be very picky and snarky, and no two are exactly alike :)
Dave
Looks like the GG Gorilla 40 will be a winner. Long enough in the torso, very comfy at the expected 5kg load, and enough room so that a quilt can be loosely packed in the bottom--and I get to support fellow Texans. Thanks once again, Dave.

Regards,
Bash
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I agree. There are a number of outdoor equipment stores in upstate NY. Eastern Mountain Sports may be one candidate. Dicks carries low end backpacks, including those packs carrying labels from well known brands like North Face and Mountainsmith.
The low end backpacks work just as well for walking the Camino.
I have walked with a pack costing about 150 euros and one costing about 30 euros and noticed little if any difference.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: (2016), Del Norte: (2018), Finisterre: (2018)
Olvidado (to Bonar): (2019)
When I walked in 2017, I took a small backpack with 2 outfits, a sleeping bag, and basic toiletries, the whole thing came in at under 10 lbs. I ended up taking a daypack with minimal structure, but enough for it to fit comfortably and it worked really well for me. I walked a portion of the Primitivo, about 100 miles.

I’m planning to walk again, this time starting in St Jean Pied de Port, and I need a new backpack. I said goodbye to the old one after a Kilimanjaro climb last summer when a strap was starting to fail and I couldn’t get the smell out.

Should I look for a slightly more substantial pack? Or can I get away with the same light load and carrying system? I dont think I need more stuff, but I’d be interested to know if a longer hike requires a heavier pack.
No
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
The low end backpacks work just as well for walking the Camino.
I have walked with a pack costing about 150 euros and one costing about 30 euros and noticed little if any difference.
For you, that may be true. Depending on the backpack, that may be true or not for me, though. You are correct that with such light loads, a backpack's construction, suspension system, and hipbelt systems are not as critical as if doing an unsupported, long-distance backpacking trip.

I think the biggest factor is the budget and longevity. If the backpack is for a single Camino, there are any number of inexpensive backpacks that can work, just as you stated. If long-term durability is the issue (spend once, cry once), then investing in better quality gear is cheaper in the long run :)
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I think the biggest factor is the budget and longevity. If the backpack is for a single Camino, there are any number of inexpensive backpacks that can work, just as you stated. If long-term durability is the issue (spend once, cry once), then investing in better quality gear is cheaper in the long run :)
“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

― Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
As my late Sicilian grandmother oft stated... and in her inimitable deep Italian accent...

"You buy cheap...you pay twice..."

This advice still holds true...
 

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